To say that we fly fisherman are eclectic is one of those big understatements. If you have ever tried to explain the different types of gear to a non-fisherman or a newbie to the sport of fly fishing…there will inevitably be this look and maybe a head scratch or two as they try and process what this thing is for and what that thing is for; the truth is that we might actually carry a little too much but the real fear lies in that one moment where we need a leader straightener and don’t have one? Thus our fishing vest is the real signature piece for most casters. I love to check out other vests and how folks arrange their gear because it says a lot about the kind of person they are. I have had others pass by me and double take at the amount of marabou waving around on my chest…for I am a meat chucker, always have been and frankly always will. Now…don’t think that I won’t throw a dry or a nymph…but for me a big streamer and the tug on the other end…that is all I live for.
So, this week we are in part IV of our discussion and our topic is vest, packs and lanyards. I will admit that I love my fly fishing vest. I found it a few years back…in fact it was in the back of a fly shop. It had lots of pockets and the first time I put it on….let’s just say we had a connection and my dear wife, Vickie gave me the look and knew I wanted it and here we are a few years later and it looks a little worse for wear but we (the vest and I) still are having a relationship. You might be laughing at this point or maybe you might just understand what I am saying but the truth is I am comfortable with this vest and I know where everything is; fact is I don’t even have to think I just open a pocket, grab what I need and go from there. I have explained it like this to other ‘regular’ fisherman; they carry a tackle box and I have to have mine with me and my vest is my tackle box.
There are sooooo many types of vest out there but just like I said before you need to find one that will allow you to do all the things you want to do. I will say that I like a vest that is lighter weight and not all cotton; in fact Cabela’s had several vest that are very nice and when they get wet…they won’t weigh a hundred pounds because that weight will be carried around with you the entire time you fish. Shop around, go to fly shops and try different vest on before you settle for the first one you cross.
There are other options; one is a pack, be it a fanny pack, chest pack etc….I am not a pack fan. I just haven’t ever got used to the bulk in one place but that said, I don’t want to discourage you from looking and certainly if you are going to be out for a long walk, a pack may be the way to go. I personally use a lanyard in the summer and often while float tube fishing as it reduces the weight I am carrying and sometimes all I need is a little tippet, a pair of snips, pair of hemostats and a few flies and this can all be accomplished with a good lanyard. Cabela’s has several ones to look at but I like Dr. Slick’s Fly Fishing Accessory Lanyard and it runs in the mid $30 dollar range and as I said it will allow you to have all you need for several hours around your neck and when it is hot you won’t be loaded down with a big heavy vest.